There were seven studies looking at the effect of sport on current symptoms of depression, most of these were longitudinal in study design.
· There was one randomised controlled trial (1), which found that sport had a negative impact on symptoms of depression. Although this study may not be directly applicable, as it was based in a post-conflict setting in Uganda.
· . There is evidence from five out of the six longitudinal studies that participation in sport is associated with lower depression symptoms in adolescents. One study found that sports participation predicted greater reductions in depressive symptoms for those who had higher baseline depressive scores (2). Another study found that over time, those who participated in sport were less likely to develop symptoms of depression than those who didn’t (3).
Quality of Evidence
Strength of Recommendation
1B Strong recommendation, but moderate quality evidence as mainly longitudinal studies.
Evidence from longitudinal studies shows that involvement in sport during childhood and adolescence is a predictor of lower symptoms of depression.
1) Richards J, Foster C, Townsend N, et al. Physical fitness and mental health impact of a sport-for-development intervention in a post-conflict setting: randomised controlled trial nested within an observational study of adolescents in Gulu, Uganda. BMC public health. 2014 Dec 1;14(1):619.
2) Brière FN, Yale-Soulière G, Gonzalez-Sicilia D, et al. Prospective associations between sport participation and psychological adjustment in adolescents. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2018 Jul 1;72(7):575-81.
3) Nagamatsu T, Suzukawa K, Kai Y,et al. Influence of organized sport activity on stress response and mental health in adolescents: a 15-month cohort study in high school students. Bulletin of the Physical Fitness Research Institute. 2010 Apr(108):1-7.